One week to go before USATF Junior Nationals and Nike Outdoor Nationals. With such high stakes on the line, many athletes are traveling around the country testing their limits one last time. The New York State T&F Championships is the last state meet of the season, while regional championships in the Midwest Distance Gala, Midwest Meet of Champions and New England Championships showcase many of the nation's best. See what's taking place at each meet this weekend in our weekly weekend preview.
Weekend Preview (6/13 - 6/15)
New England T&F Championships (ME)
Athletes from Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire will assemble at the New England T&F Championships this weekend to prove just who the best athletes in the New England area are. On both the boys and girls sides Connecticut looks to dominate the competition. With high performances topping the start lists in the sprints and distance events, Connecticut is looking strong throughout.
The boys side is led by sprint stars Dominic Smith (Bloomfield, CT) and Daundre Barnaby (Weaver, CT). Smith looks to finish off his outstanding season with victories in both the 200m and 400m dash events. Smith is the top ranked participant in the 200m dash, while ranking second in the 400m. Barnaby is also ranked well in both events, with a number one ranking in the 400m dash and third in the 200m dash.
Another Connecticut duo that ranks high are Danbury (CT) teammates Parker Bourdeau and Willie Ahearn. Bourdeau is ranked number one in the 800m dash and Ahearn is the top seed in the 1600m run. While Bourdeau had nearly a two second lead on the second seed in his event, Ahearn leads a strong 1600m field that has three others under 4:13.
In the field events Dwight Barbiasz (Milford, NH) looks to steal all the attention away from the track. The senior will be looking to clear the seven foot barrier in the high jump once again, perhaps even pushing the 7-02 or 7-03 barrier. David Slovenski (Brunswick, ME) is the top seed in the boys pole vault with a mark of 16-00. Slovenski has been challenged few times since the indoor season, but should be looking to push the 17-00 barrier. Elsewhere, Ben Latham (Fitch, CT) will look to improve upon his 204-05 seed in the javelin throw.
On the girls side Georgia Griffin (Hanover, NH) and Anna Shields (Lewis Mills, CT) clash in the girls 1600m and 3200m running events. Both athletes are hitting their stride at the right time and both have a shot to run some exceptional times. The girls 4x800m relay looks to be competitive as well between La Salle Academy (RI) and Lincoln-Sudbury (MA). Both squads enter the competition looking to break the 9:10 barrier and make their mark before next weekend's Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Perhaps the best performances of the day will come from four-event athlete Jesse Labreck (Messalonskee, ME). Labreck will be looking to win four seperate events, being entered in the 100m hurdles, 300m hurdles, high jump and triple jump. Labreck is the top seed for both the 100m hurdles and high jump, while being seeded in the top five in the longer hurdle event and the triple jump.
Two other stars to watch are thrower Becky O'Brien (Greely, ME) and Anna Cioffredi (Lebanon, NH). Both athletes are seeded exceptionally well in their respective events. O'Brien is ranked first in the girls shot put and discus throws. After a long season, O'Brien should be looking to tune-up one last time before national competitions start taking place. Cioffredi meanwhile is the top ranked athlete in the 400m dash and the number four seed for 200m.
In the sprints Danbury (CT) and Weaver (CT) are ranked 1-2 in both the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay, just adding to the Connecticut dominance that should already take place in other events.
Midwest Distance Gala (IL)
Foot Locker finalists, U.S. nationally ranked athletes and state champions from coast to coast take part in this year's Midwest Distance Gala. The distance-only event will host a total of eight seperate prep events, a boys freshman mile, boys 2k steeplechase and girls & boys 800m, mile and two mile. The meet also features a professional 3k steeplechase.
Some of the top competitors in this year's fields include, Rob Finnerty (MN), Andrew Perkins (WI), Bobby Nicolls (WI), Emily Sisson (NE), Ashley Verplank (IL), Mat Smoody (IL), Taylor Morgan (OR), Graham Bazell (MD), Bobby Aprill (MI) and Jordan Carlson (MN). The strongest fields are the boys 800m and two-mile events, where at least 2-3 competitors are expected to push the 1:50 (800m) and nine minute (two-mile) barriers. Finnerty has also stated that he is going to attempt to break the Minnesota state mile record of 4:05. Click Here for Full Preview (Courtesy of ILRunners.com)
Midwest Meet of Champions (MI)
Seniors from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan converge on Jackson H.S. (MI) Saturday to take part in the Midwest Meet of Champions. Many of the top senior athletes in each state will test their skills against their cross-state rivals in a match-up for regional bragging rights. The prime event of the entire weekend is the boys shot put. With six athletes over 62 feet, this event is deep and extremely talented. Leading the charge is U.S. top ten ranked Brandon Pounds (Lawrence North, IN) (pictured left), tabbed as the pre-meet favorite, but followed closely by Indiana teammates Tyler Hiatt (Noblesville, IN) and Jakob Engel (Portage, IN). Following closely behind Pounds are Michigan's Mike Martin (Detroit Catholic Central, MI) and Matt Armstrong (Lansing Sexton, MI), while Ohio's Drew Ebersole (Midview, OH) represents the Buckeye State with his own 62+ seed throw.
Elsewhere on the boys side, vaulters Kevin Schipper (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, IN) and Joe Wesley (Marine City, MI) go head-to-head since they last met during the indoor season. Both athletes have a great shot to clear the 17-00 barrier, and do not be surprised if either of them cleared 17-02 and moved into a U.S. top three position. Other top field event participants are Bob Belden (Decatur Central, IN) in the discus and Ryan Fleck (Napoleon, OH) in the high jump.
On the track, D'Juan Richardson (Warren Central, IN) leads the way. Richardson is one of the best hurdlers in the country this season and enters Saturday's competition ranked #1 in both the 110m and 300m hurdle events. However, Richardson will receive competition from Michigan's Roscoe Payne (Flint, MI), who won double gold at the Michigan State Meet.
Varick Tucker (Belleville, MI) is the top ranked 400m runner but should have plenty of challengers in the event, especially the strong contingent from Ohio, while Tucker also anchors a competitive 4x400m relay that will be the highlight relay of the day amongst the three states. Ohio's Jared Hall (Cleveland Heights, OH) and Mike Krisely (Reynoldsburg, OH) will challenge each other in the boys 800m dash as well, with both athletes looking to break 1:51 for the first time this season.
The top girls races come in the 100m and 200m dash events. Both fields are stacked with national level talent, including the likes of Candyce McGrone (Warren Central, IN), Meshawn Graham (Toledo Bowsher, OH), Aaeron Payne (Beaumont, OH) and the two Elises from Michigan, Elise Brown (Jackson, MI) and Elise Glass (Dearborn, MI). McGrone, Payne, Glass and Brown will clash in the girls 200m dash, which could produce a few U.S. top ten performances in the event, while McGrone and Glass are both entered in the 100m dash. Graham will be looking to push a new U.S. #1 performance in the 400m dash, ranked as the top seed after running 53.30 in the event last weekend, which currently ranks her U.S. #1.
The hurdle events are always fun to watch as well at this meet. This year Leslie Aririguzo (West Bloomfield, MI) and Sarah Snapp (Shelbyville, IN) should put on quite a show. Aririguzo is one of the top ranked short hurdlers in the country and the senior is entered in the 100m hurdle event. Meanwhile, Snapp is entered in the 100m and 300m hurdle events and looks to improve her bests in both events.
In the field events Mackenzie Wills (Troy Christian, OH) and Monteka Flowers (Warren Central, IN) lead the way. Flowers is ranked highly in both the shot put and discus events, while Wills looks to clear even greater heights after soaring over the 13-00 barrier earlier in the season in the pole vault. Tia Brooks (East Kentwood, MI) will be a challenger as well in the girls throws, entering the meet with a 48-00 seed mark in the shot put. In the distances Alex Banfich (Culver Academies, IN) looks to close out her Midwest career with double victories in the 1600m and 3200m runs, while Emily Infeld (Beaumont, OH) looks to improve upon her 2:09 800m seed time from earlier in the season, while preparing to head back to Nike Outdoor Nationals, which saw her take second in the mile last season.
New York State T&F Championships (NY)
Preview Coming Shortly.
Caribbean Scholastic Invitational (PR)
The third annual Caribbean Scholastic Invitational takes place this weekend in Puerto Rico, where Team USA will take on numerous Caribbean nations in this classic showdown. While many of the top U.S. athletes passed on traveling and competing in Puerto Rico, hoping to rest up and prepare for USATF Junior Nationals or Nike Outdoor Nationals next weekend, many of the nation's best will still make the trip.
Leading the way on the girls side is sprinter Malena Wesh (Landstown, VA), hurdler Jasmin Stowers (Pendleton, SC), A'Lexus Brannon (Ozen, TX) and Emily Vannoy (Thomas Johnson, MD). Wesh will be leading the girls sprint crew, entered in both the 100m and 200m dash events. This will be Wesh's first taste of independence from her squad this spring after an incredibly successful team campaign during the indoor and outdoor season. Wesh will have a chance to test her speed against many of the top athletes across the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Stowers looks to gain momentum towards Nike Outdoor Nationals, as the sophomore is entered in the 100m hurdles. After giving U.S. #1 Jacquelyn Coward (TN) a challenge a few times this season, Stowers should be prepped and ready to take on the regions best. Perhaps the best surprise of the weekend comes from Brannon.
With so many performances at the Texas State Meet taking national headlines, Brannon was one of the only double event winners on the weekend with her long jump and triple jump victories. She will compete in both jump events, as well as the 100m hurdles. Vannoy, who won the Penn Relays shot put competition, will test her skills in the girls shot put, looking to challenge the 50 foot mark.
On the boys side the Texas contingent of Omar Craddock (Killeen, TX), Marquise Goodwin (Rowlett, TX) and Chance Casey (Crosby, TX) look to make their mark internationally. Craddock and Goodwin have both had impressive seasons thus far, but will be looking for much more in the jumps. Craddock is entered in the triple jump, while Goodwin has a busy day ahead of him in the triple jump, long jump and 100m dash. Casey also has a busy day with entries both the 110m and 400m hurdles. Both Casey and Wayne Davis (SE Raleigh, NC) will look to sweep the hurdle events for the U.S.
Elsewhere, Justin Shirk (Central Dauphin, PA) will compete in the javelin throw, looking to improve upon his 221-03 set earlier in the season. New Bern (NC) teammates Fuqauwn Greene and Anthony Hendrix lead the sprints and middle-distance events. Greene is the top ranked U.S. 200m participant, while Hendrix leads the 800m field. Blake Heriot (Lincoln, OH) is also a prime contestant in the 100m and 200m dashes.